Terror eyes on intelligence radar ahead of elections (Election Special)
Two expert bombers of the Indian Mujahideen along with other operatives may be trying to sneak into Delhi and other major cities from across the border, including even from a Tibetan hideout, to carry out major terror attacks during the parliamentary elections, say intelligence sources.
The IM operatives may be planning to kidnap foreigners and prominent personalities, including political leaders, said the sources who said the operatives were being closely tracked.
Indian intelligence agencies said they were on the trail of the bombers, Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, 22, and Waqas, 26, and monitoring their movements between their possible hideouts in Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet and their conversations with "sleeper cells" in India.
The duo were suspected of involvement in the 2010 bombing at Varanasi's Sheetla Ghat during the evening 'aarti', the cooker bomb blast outside Jama Masjid here the same year, the 2011 serial blasts in Mumbai's Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar West - as well as the 2012 low intensity blasts in Pune and the twin bombings in Hyderabad in 2013.
All these terror attacks left a total of 43 dead and 253 injured.
The others on the intelligence radar are the Bhatkal brothers, Riyaz and Iqbal, and top IM operatives Mohsin Choudhary, Amir Reza Khan, Shahnawaz Alam, Ariz Khan and Mirza Shadab Beg.
"These terrorists could sneak into India as this is the right time to create havoc. They are also reportedly planning to avenge last year's arrest of IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal. We are keeping an eye on their movements," a top Delhi Police official told IANS.
Yasin Bhatkal, who is involved in some of the major blasts in India, is in judicial custody and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a charge sheet against him.
Delhi Police's Special Cell officers told IANS that the Lok Sabha elections could be a good opportunity for the IM operatives to create panic through terror attacks.
"Police departments across India and the intelligence bureau have been asked to keep special watch over all Lok Sabha candidates and political leaders who are out on the campaign trail," a source told IANS.
The IM operatives also want to take revenge for the arrest of several of their top functionaries in the last three years, including the busting of the Darbhanga (Bihar) module.
Trained in bomb-making in Pakistan, Akhtar and Waqas are experts at putting together explosives, including sticky bombs, timer bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They are also experts in handling rocket launchers and sophisticated weapons.
The suspicion of police and the Intelligence Bureau has been strengthened after the questioning of Yasin Bhatkal, 31, the India head of IM.
Yasin, also known as Mohammed Ahmed Siddibapa, who is in judicial custody, revealed that Akhtar would target prominent places like Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Goa, for terror blasts and kidnapping of foreign tourists, the sources said.
The NIA charge sheet against Yasin Bhatkal and others reveals their possible motive.
"These IM operatives along with some functionaries, including their Pakistan-based associates and sleeper cells in India, are undertaking large scale recruitment of new members for commission of terrorist acts in various parts of the country to wage war against the Indian government," it says.
Delhi Police are in touch with their counterparts in the National Capital Region to enhance security during the elections.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 23-03-2014)